20 January 2012

Recommendation: Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

SPOILER ALERT!
If you're planning to read this book,
don't read this post.


Witchlanders
Lena Coakley

I really loved this book.  I usually go for "high fantasies" only every once in a while, but I was pretty attached to this book since I found out about it.  So when I saw it in my school library, I couldn't keep myself from checking it out, even though I already had four other library books at home. o.o  I grew frustrated because I didn't have a lot of time to read it until after my Psychology midterm.

The book's beginning--which I started to read the moment I checked it out--starts really well.  I got an immediate sense of Ryder's character and I sympathized with him right there, right from the get-go.  Opening the book with Ryder witnessing his mother's relapse into her addiction was a clever move on Coakley's part, since it garners sympathy for the character, makes him 3D and creates that character-reader bond.  What usually takes half a book, Coakley accomplished in a single chapter.  Her style of characterization reminds me a lot of Maggie Stiefvater, how they both layer their characters while also not afraid to get in your face with a character's faults and rough edges.  I think some author's like to try and make their character look perfect, with "perfect" little faults, but Coakley sure didn't pussyfoot with Ryder.  He was frustrating.  He could be cruel.  He could be stubborn and really ignorant, but this just made him all the more likable.

Not only did I have a sense of Ryder's character, but of the world and the mystery.  The mystery unfolded really well.  From the end of chapter two, I was hooked.  It was The Point of No Return.  All the while, in the back of my mind, Coakley was planting little seeds of information that would become important later. I knew things about the world--they were so easy to imagine.  I was a little disappointed that this so-called "high fantasy" didn't have a map in the front, but I found out I didn't need one.  That, I believe, is the sign of a great writer of world-building: I could keep everything in line without ever needing a map drawn out for me.

Very impressive.

I think the most impressive part about this whole book, though, was the magic.  DUDE.  Having singing be the medium of magic?  That was positively, bloody BRILLIANT.  Coakley set up the rules of her world very well, and it was incredibly inventive.  I can't wait to see where she takes this series--'cause this SURE AS GOD MADE LITTLE GREEN APPLES better have a sequel!  The way the book ended with Ryder going with Falpian to the Bitterlands definitely suggests that a sequel is in order.  With all the mystery and the complete lack of tying up all the loose ends---everything suggests a sequel and yet I see no evidence of it!  This is supremely irritating!

The depth of Coakley's world reminds me of Tamora Pierce, buuutttt...

Coakley's world was very tightly woven, as was her plot.  The time where very tightly woven plots comes off elegantly in PNRs, but when it comes to high fantasies, I expect more details that deepen the world but don't necessarily have anything to do with the plot.  For some reason, Coakley's ability to write such a tightly woven world irritates me.  Puts me off just a smidge.  I guess I loved it so much that I wanted more.

Okay.  Scariest moment:  HOLY FUDGE.  When Falpian is going down the mountain and comes across the thief spiders.  Oh my gooooodddd!  I was literally biting my nails and flipping out where I was sitting (luckily I was alone in my room.  Would've been embarrassing had I been at school or something).  Coakley described that SO WELL.  The ending where Ryder, Skyla and Falpian were wandering around the tunnels really put me on edge.

The ending came really close to disappointing me.  When Sodan came to try and persuade Ryder into the coven, I was thinking, "Oh UH UH!"  I mean, after all the crap that the covens had put everyone through, Ryder couldn't cave and join them.  Then of course Visser had to try and kill Falpian on Sodan's orders and there went that.  Well done, Sodan.  Best way to keep Ryder out of the covens.

I loved the relationship between Ryder and Falpian.  I thought it came off really well because they set offset each other really well.  Falpian is struggling to stand up for himself and Ryder struggles to stand up and protect those he loves.

For the lack of romance, this book was fantastic.  Personally, I thought Ryder might go for the Right Hand of Aata.  The scene at the end there where she tells him her real name, I figured that there was a kiss coming up.  Nope.  But that's fine.  The book held up well without a romance.

What did y'all think about it?  Did I miss anything?